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Sunday, 24 January 2021

South Africa's Journey's End

Four wines from South Africa's Journey's End

The story of South Africa's Journey's End starts with Roger Gabb in the 1980s. Based in Shropshire, he had worked on the drinks trade for some time when he founded Western Wines which he grew and eventually sold for £135m.



Seeing the end of apartheid and the potential for high-quality South African wines, he bought Journey's End. He describes it as "an estate with a house and vineyard which, although I am chairman, operates under [son] Rollo’s direction and is now making extremely good wine sold all over the world."

South Africa has the oldest soils on the planet and it has no problem with ripeness, the challenge is more about preserving acidity and freshness.

Journey’s End is situated just 6km from the coast at the point where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.in the Stellenbosch Appellation in the Western Cape.


With views across False Bay to the Cape of Good Hope, the south-eastern sea winds and proximity of the Schaabenberg mountain makes the area much cooler and give the wines a hint of salinity.

The company's website says: located in Stellenbosch, with vineyards adjacent to Vergelegen and Morgenster, Journey’s End is right at the heart of one of the cape’s most exciting terroirs. Our coastal location benefits from cooling winds coming off the Atlantic ocean, helping to create wines with great elegance and natural acidity. Following a belief that ‘Less is More’.

Bought and replanted by the Gabb family in 1996, the last ten years have seen the estate grow into one of the most talked about in the region. The wines have won accolades and medals at wine competitions around the world ever since the maiden vintages.

Here in the cellar we combine traditional winemaking methods, modern technology and a degree of experimentation to produce dynamic fruit driven wines with great elegance and complexity. The philosophy in both the vineyards and cellar follows a minimum intervention approach to ensure the quality of the fruit shines through.

We are 100% committed to producing top quality single vineyard and appellation wines that are intricate, integrated and true to our terroir and the climatic benefits of the region.


A note on aeration: I found all of these wines improved with extensive aeration. Not just more opened-up on the second day, but fundamentally more interesting over three days later with still somewhere to go.

Perhaps it's partly my palate and partly the squeaky clean, low-oxygen winemaking from high quality fruit, but these wines all feel like they will repay some cellaring and reveal greater underlying complexities that do not necessarily show beyond the ripe fruit on first opening.

They all drink nicely out of the bottle, but several hours in the decanter will reveal something more complex and nuanced.


Journeys End Weather Station Sauvignon Blanc (£14, independents) expressive and aromatic with lemongrass, white pepper, lychees, guava, passionfruit and ripe tropical fruits; fresh and citrussy with lime marmalade and a saline-mineral core.

Good.

Journeys End Destination Chardonnay (£23, independents) Meursault-style Chardonnay; toasty lemon meringue and lime marmalade, white stone fruits, bitter lemon and grapefruit with honeysuckle; buttery, creamy-leesy oatmeal and toasty vanilla spice; saline minerality.

Improves for several days after opening; will repay cellaring.

Very Good.

Journeys End Huntsman Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2018 (£10, independents) fresh and juicy with bramble fruits and black cherries; more Beaujolais than Rhône in style; fruity with spice and herbaceous eucalyptus and good underpinnings. Well-made.

Improves with aeration; can also be served lightly chilled.

Good.

Journeys End Single Vineyard Merlot 2015 (£15, independents) single vineyard wine; earthy, forest fruits and cherries with spicy vanilla and white pepper; dark forest berries, blackcurrants and raspberries with sweet violet blossoms and spicy oak, hints of eucalyptus. Very adept and harmonious.

Improves with aeration.

Good.


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